Older men and women who are thick around the middle may have an increased risk of developing colon cancer.
A study in the Netherlands followed over 120,000 Dutch adults between the ages of 55 and 69 who reported their height, weight, their pants or skirt size, and their weight at age 20 to researchers. Over the next 16 years, about two percent of the study participants developed colorectal cancer, and the risk was 25 percent greater for men who were overweight or obese at the beginning of the study.
Hughes encouraged women to focus less on the scale and more on maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Men with the largest waist sizes had a 63 percent greater risk of developing cancer than men with the smallest waist measurements.
Laura Hughes of Maastricht University in the Netherlands and lead researcher said that this study provides even more evidence that excessive body fat may be a risk factor for colorectal cancer. Though it's not clear why abdominal fat in women was associated more so with colorectal cancer only when combined with little exercise, Hughes encouraged women to focus less on the scale and more on maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Abdominal obesity has been linked to other chronic health conditions like diabetes and heart disease, and it seems to be associated with chronic, low-level inflammation in the body. In the United States, over 142,000 people were diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2007 (the most recent statistic) with over 50,000 dying from the disease.
According to the American Cancer Society, lifestyle choices can increase the risk of colorectal cancer. Those risk factors include diet, physical inactivity, obesity, smoking, heavy alcohol use, and type 2 diabetes. Guidelines for screening for colon cancer can be found here.
The study appeared in the October issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology.